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New U.S Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, the Chicano’s Literary Rock Star

On Wednesday morning, Herrera became U.S. poet laureate for his prolific countless poems and inspirational work as an educator – but writing poems isn’t the only thing this Chicano can do. He’s a rockstar, actor, master bird-caller and so much more…

He’s the first Chicano to achieve this honor. And it’s kind of a big deal.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

No Latino has ever received this high-level title and it doesn’t get any higher than this. Other poets who’ve received this honor include the great Robert Frost and Philip Levine.

His mother’s singing helped him fall in love with poetry.

Credit: The Root of a THousand Embraces / Amazon

The songs that inspired him the most were about the Mexican Revolution – of all things. If she could see how far he’s come, “my mother would be so happy. She’d be clapping. Maybe crying. And dancing.”

Bird calling is one of his secret talents.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

As told in his children’s book Calling the Doves, he tells how his dad taught him how to master the art so perfectly by whistling into his hands, doves would fly right in.

As the son of migrant workers, one of his biggest passions is immigration.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

His parents came from Mexico after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 in search of the American Dream. During his youth, his family moved from tents to trailers, “crop to crop, field to field” so his parents could sustain work as field workers.

Walt Whitman is one of his biggest inspirations.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

Like Breaking Bad‘s Walter White who kept Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in his bathroom, Juan Felipe Herrera also drew inspiration from Whitman’s works. Among his other inspirations were César Vallejo and Picasso.

He was punished for not being fluent in English. Then proved the haters wrong.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

He recalls being punished in the first grade for not speaking perfect English. Fast-forward a few years and he went on to get degrees from UCLA and Stanford – and later become the U.S. Poet Laureate. How’s that for fluency?

His books of poetry resonate with audiences of all ages.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

He’s published over two dozen books with poems that swing between English and Spanish.

Easy to see why. His words and enthusiasm are contagious.

Credit: UCR MFA Program / YouTube

Herrera told the Washington Post that he believes poetry “is a way to attain a life without borders.”

The acting bug bit him in the late 60s.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

He attended UCLA, being amongst the first to receive an Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) scholarship. There he was influenced by the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Luis Valdez and began performing in experimental theatre.

So did the music bug.

Credit: USC Libraries / YouTube

He likes to plays some sick licks to accompany his poems.

As you can see, his words transcend into all genres, including musicals.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

His popular children’s book The Upside Down Boy was adapted into a musical and has published award-winning fiction.

Artistic talent runs in the family.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

His uncle Roberto is an actor, community organizer, radio host and comedic theatre performer. His other uncle was a muralist and painter. His dad founded this church in Mesquite, New Mexico in the early 1930s.

Oh, and he’s just like us.

Credit: Juan Felipe Herrera / Facebook

Herrera loves to share pictures of food…especially chiles.

Who’s your favorite Latino poet? Leave a comment below to let us know.

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This Month, Isabel Allende Is Releasing a Memoir and HBO Is Releasing a Mini-Series Based on Her Life

Fierce

This Month, Isabel Allende Is Releasing a Memoir and HBO Is Releasing a Mini-Series Based on Her Life

Photo via Getty Images

March is a busy month for Isabel Allende. The most successful Spanish-language author of all time released a new memoir, “The Soul of a Woman”, on March 2nd. On March 12th, HBO released a mini-series based on her life entitled “ISABEL: The Intimate Story of Isabel Allende”.

Both of these projects focus on the unifying themes of Isabel Allende’s life. How she has defied the patriarchy, bucked expectations, and pursued her dreams while the odds were against her.

The HBO mini-series, entitled “ISABEL: The Intimate Story of Isabel Allende”, covers a lot of ground. From Allende’s childhood in Chile, to the chaotic years of her uncle’s assassination (who happened to be Chile’s president), and her subsequent flight to Venezuela.

The series will also touch on different phases of her life. Her career as a journalist for a progressive feminist magazine. Dealing with her all-consuming grief when her daughter died in 1992. Publishing her first novel–“House of Spirits”–in 1982.

A scene from the trailer of “ISABEL” sums up the hurtles that Allende had to overcome to create a career for herself in the male-dominated world of publishing. “They are going to raise the bar because you’re a woman,” her agent tells her bluntly. “You’ll have to work twice as hard as a man in order to obtain half the prestige.”

Allende’s memoir, “The Soul of a Woman“, on the other hand, reflects on her life through a distinctly feminist lens.

Her publisher describes it as “a passionate and inspiring mediation on what it means to be a woman.” And it doesn’t appear that Allende is shying away from the label of “feminist”. One of the first sentences of her book states: “When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, even before the concept was known in my family, I am not exaggerating.”

Despite being 78-years-young, Allende’s beliefs–about feminism, freedom and intersectionality–are incredibly modern. Throughout her lengthy press tour, Allende has been candid about the life experiences that have shaped her beliefs–mainly how witnessing her mother’s suffering at the hands of her father contributed to her “rage against chauvinism.”

Today, Allende remains incredibly in touch with the progressive issues of the moment, like the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements.

“In patriarchy, we are all left out: women, poor people, Black people, people with disabilities, people with different sexual orientations,” she recently told PopSugar. “We are all left out! Because it divides us into small groups to control us.”

Above all, Allende believes that we all–especially women–should recognize that we have many of the same goals and dreams. And we’re stronger when we’re united. “Talk to each other — women alone are vulnerable, women together are invincible,” she says.

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Latinas Are Sharing Important Book Reading Clubs And Favorite Reads

Fierce

Latinas Are Sharing Important Book Reading Clubs And Favorite Reads

There’s a reason why, in the age of television and Youtube, books continue to be read, loved, and adored by readers: when it comes to stories, books elevate the imagination in a way that can engage all of the senses. In times like these, where so many of us are in isolation and feeling alone, reading can, fortunately, do so much for the soul, and being apart of a book club (even if it is on Zoom) can help bring excitement to the monotony of our daily lives.

Fortunately, FIERCE Latinas are recommending book club suggestions as well as reads.

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The list below will surely fit the bill for all of your reading desires and help you get over any type of boredom you might have.

This club reading a Hollywood drama.

Amazon

“We actually have a book club called Pasando Páginas! We are currently reading the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” – hijasunidas


@cafeconlibros_bk is reading Little 🔥Everywhere 12.27!” –boardroombombshell

“I started a book club last year and while it’s small, our reads are mighty.” –steezplz


“I just finished “Clap When You Land.” I was never impressed by Acevedo until this book. It blew me away. She focuses more on trauma and grief in adolescence and it’s pretty damn near perfect. HIGHLY recommend.”- abbeyliz7

This club only reading books by Latinas.

Amazon.com

“I started a book club with friends this year. We only read female authors from Latin America. So far, my favorites have been “Delirio” by Laura Restrepo and “Los recuerdos del porvenir” by Elena Garro.” –merimagdalen

“Always Running by Luis J Rodriguez was the first Chicano book I have ever read!!!!!” –valeriec01

This book club introducing readers to Chicano literature.

Amazon.com

“Always Running by Luis J Rodriguez was the first Chicano book I have ever read!!!!” valeriec01

“Visionaries a Private Reading Group for BIQTPOC hosted by @femmegoddessco.” –moniii_xoxo

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